More than one in three Scots are unaware that drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing cancer, research has found.
A survey of adults found 39 per cent did not know of the link even when prompted, a poll by the World Cancer Research Fund revealed.
The release of these results coincides with the start of Alcohol Awareness Week (14-20 November). The theme for Monday 14 November is alcohol and cancer.
Drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of several cancers – bowel, breast, liver, mouth and throat, oesophageal and stomach.
In the UK, around 21,000 cancer cases could be prevented each year if nobody drank alcohol. This includes 11,700 breast cancer cases, equivalent to one in five of the total number of this type of cancer.
After not smoking and being a healthy weight, not drinking alcohol is the most important thing people can do to reduce their cancer risk.
Despite this, one in four people in Scotland drink more than the Government’s recommended weekly limit.
Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week spread over three or more days and should have several drink-free days each week.
Sarah Toule, of the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “It’s very worrying that so few people are aware that drinking alcohol increases their risk of developing a number of deadly cancers.
“Any amount of alcohol increases your cancer risk so, for cancer prevention, we recommend people don’t drink at all. If people are going to drink alcohol, then it’s important that they follow the Government’s alcohol guidelines and try to be alcohol savvy. For example, choose non-alcoholic drinks between alcoholic ones or add low-calorie mixers to wine or spirits, such as spritzers and longer cocktails.”
The poll also found that full-time students are the most aware of the link between alcohol and cancer (71 per cent).
When comparing England, Scotland and Wales, the poll showed that Scottish adults are the most aware (61 per cent aware) while the Welsh are the least aware (54 per cent).